Quick cup of COCA – compare

How are the words rotate and revolve used?

Have a think, then read this description.

Now using COCA-BYU’s compare feature let’s see if the description is supported and whether we can add anything to the picture painted by the Grammarist.

The screen recording above shows:
1. clicking on the compare radio button
2. entering the word rotate in the first box and the word revolve in the second box
3. looking through the results and seeing a rough pattern (of rotate being used with concrete (body) words and revolve with more abstract words)
4. entering noun part of speech (POS) into the collocates box (from the POS drop down menu)
5. now the results are much clearer

The description from the Grammarist article that revolve is used with astronomical objects such as planets is supported. We also see the stronger collocations of more abstract nouns used with revolve such as questions and lives. COCA-BYU also supports the Grammarist description that the primary meaning of rotate to mean spin on axis seems to be most frequent. And the Grammarist description could be added to by saying that rotate is used a lot  with body parts.

Do sip the other cups of COCA if you have not already.

Thanks for reading.